Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Check out this habanero-infused olive oil we threw together after our recent, massive chile harvest. Spicy! I’m hooked!

~2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4-6 fresh habanero chiles, washed

1. Wear latex gloves.

2. Choose a cutting board that is not super-absorbent (such as glass), or, even better, have a dedicated chile-cutting board. You could also line your cutting board with a plastic bag, being careful not to pierce the bag when cutting. Slice habaneros as desired and set cutting board aside.

3. Fill a glass container (Mason jar, recycled and washed olive oil or salad dressing bottle) half full (or so) with olive oil. Add the peppers to the olive oil, leaving some room for air at the top.

4. Wrap a paper towel or cheesecloth around the mouth of the jar and secure with twine (don’t use a rubber band!). Microwave the oil on high for a few seconds, watching closely, or until it comes just to a near-boil—just bubbling. Do not let the olive oil boil, or you will have a huge mess on your hands.

5. If you used a paper towel for the cover, remove it and replace with a fresh one. Turn the bottle or jar upside down and drain the oil into another container (any material will do—I used a Martha Steward plastic fridge containers!). Place in the refrigerator upside-down and allow the oil to cool until it’s solid. Discard chile hulls and seeds; we use ours for compost.

6. Remove the container and pour off any water that has separated. Allow the olive oil to return to liquid form at room temperature. Pour the infused oil back into the glass container and put the lid on. Eccola! Habanero-infused olive oil!

Mmm.

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

I added a couple more slices to this, for extra kick and pretty presentation!

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Cinco de Christos

My sidekick Alex and I decided to host another Greek Easter party this year, then noticed it fell on Cinco de Mayo.  So, in a typical stroke of utter brilliance, we threw a Cinco de Christos party!

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Alex, your host.

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And her amazing tzatziki.

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Eric, the grillmaster.

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Dolmas.

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The setting.

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Greek salad by Karen (Alex’s mom!).

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Melissa, Paola, and Karen.

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Hummus with carrots and pita crisps.

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The amazing Kris and Julie.

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Tsougrisma!

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Chips and queso. With sausage. Oh, yeah.

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The weather was practically Californian.  Not humid, for once!

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Melissa’s moussaka.  Unbelievable!

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Alex’s homemade baklava.  Heavenly.

Until next year!  Zapata anesti!

Stella’s Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

This isn’t a proper chile relleno recipe, as my poblanos aren’t battered, nor are they served with a typical tomato-based sauce. But they are super flavorful and deceptively easy, and I’m positive you’ll be as hooked as we are if you try this recipe!  We’ve been making these often lately because they’re is so quick and painless; I was prodded by followers on Instagram to share the recipe.

Of course, you can play around with the fillings, but these are my favorites. The rich, mature flavor of the asiago cheese pairs perfectly with bacon and cream cheese, and this hearty, slightly spicy beef transforms humble chiles into a meal.  Feel free to top with salsa or crema mexicana for extra decadence.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6 large poblano chiles
4 bacon rashers
1/2 white onion, finely diced; halved
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp Cholula or other hot sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
splash Worcestershire sauce
2 cups asiago cheese, grated
4 oz. cream cheese

Also needed:
latex gloves
toothpicks
broiling pan or cookie sheet
aluminum foil

1. In a large skillet (I used a cast iron), cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, turning a few times. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Pour bacon grease into a mason jar and save for future cooking, reserving about 1 teaspoon in the skillet.

2. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about two minutes. Remove half the oven from the pan and set aside. To the rest of the onion, add beef, breaking it up with your spatula, and continue to sauté until cooked through, about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add spices, Cholula, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

3. Meanwhile, wearing latex gloves, cut the tops off the poblanos and seed them. Cut out the ribs, as well. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

4. Once the beef is done, drain the juices and set the meat and onion mixture aside in a bowl. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the previously cooked onion, 1 cup of the grated asiago, and the cream cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon, then crumble bacon into the bowl. Continue to stir until thoroughly combined.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

5. Stuff the poblanos: take one pepper, and stuff it full with the cheese and bacon mixture, compressing the cheese down with a spoon as you stuff. Place the top back on the pepper and secure it with two toothpicks, pushed through the flesh of the pepper’s side and cap (see below). For the other four poblanos, alternately stuff with the plain grated asiago and beef mix until they are also full. Secure tops with toothpicks.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

6. Carefully move all the peppers to a broiling pan or foil-lined cookie sheet. Set oven to broil and cook on each side for two to three minutes, turning over once (again, carefully) with a large spatula. The peppers will darken and bubble a bit.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

7. Remove the pan from the oven and allow peppers to cool for a couple of minutes before gently removing them from the pan. Plate as-is and serve immediately with any garnish desired.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

To eat, simply remove the toothpicks and dig in!

Serves 3 as a main, 6 as an appetizer or side.

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Stella's Stuffed Poblanos

Green Monster Tacos

I told you the lime and cilantro trend would continue, and here’s another easy and scrumptious recipe—this time with chicken!

2 chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

six corn tortillas
2 Tbsp bacon grease, halved
1/3 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
salsa verde of your choice, to taste (y’all know which one I use!)
handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place chicken in a roasting tin or oven-safe pan, and rub both sides with olive oil.  Sprinkle cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper over it.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cooked throughout (the internal temperature should be 160°, with no pinkness).

2. For tacos: In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of bacon grease over medium heat.  Fry each tortilla briefly, 1-2 minutes, until it begins to soften and then brown.  Set each tortilla aside on paper towels, while still soft and malleable, to drain.  Repeat with each tortilla.  If using a large skillet, you should be able to fry two at once.  After doing the first few, your bacon grease will probably be burned and dark.  Pour it out, wipe out the skillet, and start afresh with the other half of the grease.

For tostadas: Melt half the bacon grease over medium heat.  Fry each tortilla just until crisp and lightly browned, then set aside on paper towels to drain.  If using a large skillet, you should be able to fry two at once.  After doing the first few, your bacon grease will probably be burned and dark.  Pour it out, wipe out the skillet, and start afresh with the other half of the grease.

3. Once your chicken is done, it’s time to assemble the tacos!  Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes.  Then shred the chicken with your hands.  It’s pretty easy to pull the meat apart into nice, bite-sized pieces.

4. Place the tortillas on serving plates and top with shredded chicken, chopped onion, grated cheese, salsa, and cilantro.  Top with some salsa verde and serve immediately.

Other recommended optional garnishes includes sour cream and raw jalapeño slices!

Enjoy!

Tacos Al Pastor

Two tacos al pastor (beef and pork) on corn tortillas with cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, lettuce, cilantro, and salsa (one verde and one hot hot), from Burrito Factory in Dobie Mall.  This place is amazing.

It’s recently come to my attention that the owners of Burrito Factory also run a taco trailer called El Primo on Live Oak and South First, which is just as highly rated among both my friends and Yelp reviewers.

Next time you’re near campus or cruising down South First, be sure to check ’em out!  These folks are really nice, and they’re quietly serving up the best tacos I’ve had in Austin—maybe anywhere.